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Oregon Early Learning Council Invests in Kindergarten Readiness and Innovation

Press Release

Location: Salem, OR

Oregon's Early Learning Council has designated nearly $4 million in grants to 16 applicants through the new Early Learning Kindergarten Readiness Partnership and Innovation Fund.

The grant charges applicants with:

* increasing connections between early learning and K-12 education.
* building a track record that Oregon can use to create stronger alignment between its early learning and K-12
education systems.
* promoting community and school partnerships that result in measurable increases in children's readiness for

Governor Kitzhaber thanked the Early Learning Council for its work to structure the investments. "These investments will improve outcomes for our most vulnerable children and families by working across education, health and child care to build a solid foundation for learning and lifelong prosperity," Governor Kitzhaber said. "Setting up our youngest Oregonians for success early is critical to achieving our 40-40-20 vision by 2025."

The state's 40-40-20 goal is predicated on building a seamless system of education from birth to college and career. The goal calls for 40 percent of students to receive a bachelor's degree or higher; 40 percent of students to receive an associate degree or certificate; and the remaining 20 percent to earn a high school diploma.

Oregon's Early Learning System Director Jada Rupley commended the Early Learning Council's work in giving more than 50 communities -- serving 20,000 Oregon children and families -- the opportunity to design and deliver innovative approaches to create new paths to school success. "These investments will help children to be ready for schools and schools to be ready for children," Rupley said.

The Council approved applications from each of the first six Early Learning Hubs, which bring together childcare, health and education, and are a critical component of the redesign of Oregon's early learning system. These include:

Early Learning, Inc. (Marion County)
Targets 15 schools characterized by high poverty and high numbers of English Language Learners. Key innovations include implementing a Pre-K instructional framework aligned with Common Core, establishing professional learning communities across the Pre-K through grade 3 spectrum, and conducting a range of family engagement and kindergarten transition activities.

Early Learning Multnomah
This proposal includes multiple innovations, such as a Community Education Worker model designed to provide support to families with children ages 0-6 who are disconnected from important services and support, as well as a pilot of an Early Childhood PBIS model (Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports).

South Central Early Learning Hub (Douglas and Lake Counties)
This proposal focuses on scaling up the innovative approach of the Early Works demonstration site in Yoncalla, as well expanding existing local approaches to linking Pre-K through grade 3 in 12 school districts across Douglas and Lake Counties.

Frontier Services Early Learning Hub (Grant and Harney Counties)
This project focuses on serving children and families in two remote, high poverty elementary school catchment areas. It includes aligned curriculum between Pre-K and kindergarten as well as home visiting program for kindergarten teachers.

Lane Early Learning Alliance
This project expands the successful Kids in Transition to School (KITS) program, along with a pilot of an early childhood science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) program. The Hub will prioritize communities in rural and remote Lane County.

Yamhill County Early Learning Hub
This project focuses on shared professional development and engaging families in children's learning and development.

Additionally, the Council approved applications from the following school communities and education service districts: David Douglas, Echo, Forest Grove, High Desert Education Service District, Intermountain ESD, Malheur ESD, Neah-Kah-Nie, Oregon City, and Southern Oregon ESD. One nonprofit organization, Northwest Family Services, was also awarded a grant.

"This grant program reflects the Council's relentless commitment to improve long-term outcomes for children and to maximize our return on investment in Oregon's early learning system," said Lynne Saxton, of the Early Learning Council.

Taken together, these projects have the potential to impact more than 20,000 of Oregon's most vulnerable children ages 0-6, and their families throughout the state, including English Language Learners, and children in poverty and in rural communities. The aim of the program is also to improve outcomes for children not currently enrolled in formal early learning settings, and others who are at risk for entering kindergarten not fully prepared for school. They represent a mix of urban and rural communities from throughout the state, including a significant presence in Eastern Oregon.

Oregon's Early Learning Division was created in July 2013. Its purpose is to implement the initiatives of the Early Learning Council as part of Governor Kitzhaber's vision to redesign Oregon's early learning system to better align health, family support and early learning outcomes from birth to kindergarten to ensure children are prepared to succeed in school and life.

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